Some things will always struggle to shrug off their old names
Everyone who has lived in an area for long enough is bound to remember the good old days.
How many times have you been with your parents or an elderly relative who has proceeded to tell you what the local Co-op used to be, or what was there before the housing estate you probably live on.
What is more difficult to shake is that those places have changed names.
Another similar scenario is when your parent or elderly relative is trying to explain where something is, but instead of saying what’s there now, they can only describe what was there 40 years previously.
We’re going to examine this phenomena a little closure and have highlighted some of the things in and around Reading, Berkshire, that people only refer to by their previous names.
With thanks to the Southcote born and bred Megan Fisher – formerly of BerkshireLive – for her local knowledge.
Heelas in Broad Street, Reading
A lot of people will only know the massive, sprawling John Lewis store in Broad Street.
It’s very easy to get into and very hard to get out.
Heelas originally came to Reading in 1854 and after various owners it was eventually bought by John Lewis back in 1953.
The department store we know and love came into being in 1985.
It lost the Heelas name in 2001, but that doesn’t really matter as that’s what a lot of people still call it.
The Butts Centre, St Mary’s Butts, Reading
The Butts is actually called Broad Street Mall, and has been for a very long time.
It was originally known as the “Butts Centre” when it opened in 1971.
It’s not quite clear when it stopped being The Butts and when it started being Broad Street Mall.
But in the minds of many, it’s still, and always will be The Butts.
We wonder if anyone present at the opening 49 years ago would have thought it would eventually end up having huge blocks of flats built on the top, which is exactly what’s happening.
Smelly Alley, Union Street, Reading
If you were to ask some people in Reading where Union Street was, you might get a blank look.
If you said, “Where’s Smelly Alley?” they’d almost certainly be able to tell you it’s a little alley between Broad Street and Friar Street.
It was once the home of a butcher and the famous Frost’s fishmongers. The aroma’s coming from the two shops caused something of a whiff, hence the name.
Or is it?
Kevin Little, who owned Frost’s for many years before its closure last year, said the street had been known as Smelly Alley for years beforehand.
The reason? There was an open sewer there, which must’ve been lovely.
In 2020, the street is a shadow of its former self and is largely populated by mobile phone repair shops and empty units.
Seward’s, Victoria Road, Mortimer
Sewards was a rather charming locally-owned supermarket in the West Berkshire village.
Unusually for a village very much not by the sea, it always had excellent fish.
Nonethless the owners sold up a good while ago now but people in the village still refer to it by its former name.
Sir John Madejski has done an awful lot for Reading, particularly the town’s football club.
Royals fans are exceptionally grateful for his efforts, but a lot of people around the town still struggle to pronounce his name.
It’s Ma-day-ski, not Majayski, not Madeshi, Ma-day-ski.
This wasn’t helped by the road sign near the stadium which had also spelt the name wrong a few years back.
Savacentre, Bath Road, Calcot
This is a popular one.
This supermarket has not been called Savacentre for a very long time.
The massive Sainsbury’s store is almost universally referred to as “Savacentre” by all who go there.
Perhaps the trend will spread and the neighbouring IKEA will be known as “Utopia” after the nightclub that was there in the 1990s.
Ashmead, Northumberland Avenue, Whitley
The former Ashmead School, whose most famous pupil is Ricky Gervais, became the John Madejski Academy in 2010.
People of a certain age refer to it as Ashmead.
Whether anyone makes it even more confusing by calling it Thamesbridge College, which it was also named, we don’t know.
Top shops, Southcote Farm Lane, Southcote
Megan reliably informs us the Southcote Parade is known as “Top Shops”.
We don’t know why this is.
Mango, Hosier Street, Reading
No-one calls this anything in 2020 as it’s derelict, having been shut down for repeated excess violence.
It’s last incarnation was Eva’s, which closed in 2017.
Everyone use to call it Mango.
It’s about to be knocked down and replaced with a Premier Inn.
Thames Valley Police will not be mourning the loss.
The Littern Tree, Castle Street, Reading
It probably depends on your age what you call this one.
What is now Brewdog has had so many names over the years, the strategy is to pick one and stick with it.
Apple Jacks, The Littern Tree, Dogma, and RYND are some of its former names.
Rusts, Overdown Road, Tilehurst
Megan, a leading authority in all things west Reading, says the parade of shops where the Co op is in Overdown Road is still referred to as “Rusts.”
Rusts was a legendary local supermarket, which did exceptional cheese topped rolls.
It had two stores in Overdown Road and The Triangle, both of which are now Co ops.
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